Monday, 13 September 2010

Learning the Art of Embroidery

The most inspirational blog I have found on Needlework is Mary Corbet's Needle 'n' Thread. This is a phenomenal site with fantastic video tutorials showing how to stitch lots of different embroidery stitches. Mary also shows the progress of many different projects she has worked on over the years and her work is stunning! The first time I found the site, I think I spent almost a week just looking round it.

As I have read round her site, I've realised that, although I have being sewing for a long time I know very little about fabrics and threads or about many other of the 'building blocks' of embroidery. I have just bought kits, accepted what is within them and done them! Without even really registering what type of fabric, thread or needle I have used!

However, I have been learning! Haven't yet branched out mind you! Still, one of Mary's posts in August was describing how a type of thread, Coton a Broder #12, was becoming hard to find. This thread looked really soft and luscious ...... and I realised that I recognised it! Wasn't it in this following object?

OK ..... doesn't look much like this. However, in a rolled up state is how my needle case spends most of its life, until I open it up to get at my needles :)

Even unrolled it perhaps doesn't look much. However, I did this when I was about six years old at primary school and I can still remember how proud I felt that I had actually made something!
The material is binca and the embroidery thread looks pretty much like the Coton a Broder that Mary described in her post. It is quite thick, being 2mm thick and it is very soft.

I still recall how intensely I tried my hardest to make all the stitches as even as possible. It is perhaps looking a little tatty now, but I wouldn't throw it away for anything.
I think it is so important that all children get the opportunity to do creative things at school. However, do they nowadays? Between 1995 and 2005, I worked as an assistant in the primary school where my son attended. Over that time, I saw the time allocated to creative work being squeezed and squeezed by the demands of the 'academic' curriculum. When he first went there himself there was a strong tradition of sewing and other crafts, for both boys and girls, but there was little going on by the time I left.

Lots of children may not necessarily be academically inclined but they can shine when doing craft and other creative activities. But do they get the opportunity to do so?

Perhaps I'd better put the soap-box away now :)


joy said...

oh I do so agree with you. when my son (now 21) was at infant school I helped out with sewing (sometimes using binca), which the children really enjoyed - boys as well as girls. such a shame if they cant find the time now.
your needle case looks gorgeous. I too would be proud of a creation like that.
joy xx

Elaine said...

Hi Joy,
My son is 19, so the same sort of age as yours, and he did quite a few sewing things when he was in the infants and also in the juniors.

Of course, my comments only apply to the (one) school I worked in so perhaps not all schools are the same?

However, what happened there was that there was a couple of assistants in both the infants and the juniors who were very into crafts and they seemed to 'drive' the creative work. When they left, there weren't any teachers who were into sewing so it tailed off. This was after my son had move onto secondary.

The national curriculum does include craft provision but, as a non-academic aspect of the curriculum, I used to feel it was only emphasised if a particular teacher or assistant was really keen. Again .... perhaps not all schools are the same? I'd like to think so, but I'm not holding my breath :)

'Teaching to the Test' ie the SATS was what appeared to be happening. Such a shame.

As for my needle case .... thank you! It is a little tatty but wouldn't survive any attempts to clean it but it holds such fond memories.

However, having seen some embroidery on Mary's website that uses Coton a Broder (which I'm sure is what the thread is), I really want to get some to try it out on a 'grown-up' project.

Rachael said...

I love that you have still got something you made when so young. I haven't as my mother was like I am now and just didn't keep anything for the sake of it.
My older brother went to a 'special' school (he's fifty this year so we're talking along, long time ago) and he used to do lots of needlework like your example, making tray cloths and table mats. I only made a Hymn Book cover at our Primary School from felt and embroidery cottons. I don't have it any more but I remember it pretty well.

Elaine said...

My Mum has kept one or two other things I made (apparently!).
Somehow or other I kept this one ..... possibly because it actually is useful :)

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